Seeing Jesus

blind

 

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” John 9:1-2 (MSG)

I sat in the eye doctor’s chair. My pupils dilated; the room a blur. The blurry image of the eye doctor explained to me the entire geography of my retina. The blur talked with me about my far-sightedness and the reason for my eyestrain and headaches. He talked for 5 minutes. Then the blur handed me my glasses. I put them on and the room popped into focus. I looked at the doctor, no longer blurry, and told him he would have to repeat everything he just said. He chuckled. I was serious. My entire “focus” was on trying to get my eyes to focus and I didn’t really hear a word he said.

I can’t imagine being blind.

The main character in this passage had never seen anything, blurry or otherwise. He was born blind. For some reason, this case seems more hopeless. This man was blind by nature. He was born blind.

Jesus saw him. Don’t miss that, it’s easy to read over that subtle detail.

Jesus’ followers tried to ask a profound question, which was actually silly, since I doubt the man sinned much before he was born.   Jesus redirected their thoughts. Jesus was not interested in placing blame. He saw this as an opportunity to display God’s greatness.

Jesus made a spit-mud paste and put it on the man’s eyes. That’s weird. Once you’re more than 4 years old, spit is not an effective treatment for anything. Then Jesus told the man to go wash in a specific pool. Just like that, the blind man could see.

People in the town noticed. The man who was blind certainly noticed. Some of town’s people tried to explain it away as a case of mistaken identity. The blind man assured the crowds it was he.

He could see. Jesus changed his life.

How’s your sight?

Everyone is born blind. Each person is born into the darkness of sin. A hopeless state indeed—born without the hope of sight, in utter darkness.

It’s a good thing Jesus can see! When Jesus sees one in the hopeless darkness of sin, His reaction is not one of blame. It’s one of compassion. The soul in darkness is the one Jesus came to save.

Jesus’ response to those in darkness? It’s not typical. Unlike the followers who were trying to find someone to blame so they could feel just a little bit better, Jesus did something weird. He died on the cross. Usually the innocent don’t die in place of the guilty. Making the innocent die to satisfy the penalty of another’s guilt doesn’t seem right. Still, Jesus gave up His perfect sinless life to pay the price for all those in the darkness of sin.

Wait, you don’t have your sight just yet!

The fact that Jesus died on the cross is only the beginning. There is one thing you must do, accept the gift of salvation that Jesus’ life purchased.   Admit you’re in the darkness. Accept the gift of grace you don’t deserve. Be washed in God’s loving forgiveness.

That is sight! That’s grace and forgiveness.

Jesus has a way of changing your life; others my try to explain away the change. You’ll know—you’ve seen The Savior.

Father, thank You for sending the light of Your Son into our darkness. Thank you for giving me the gift of grace and forgiveness and healing my blindness. Help me today, tell others of the light Jesus shines into the dark world filled with sin.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

 

April Showers

dirty Ozzy

 

The recent April showers are doing their work—spouts are popping up throughout the garden. The bushes in the back yard are full of buds and blossoms. April showers bring one other thing—a dirty white dog. Ozzy has a grand time “hunting” the chipmunk and bunny that call the back yard home.

Mother’s Day is 3 weeks away. A devotional book is the perfect gift –for any mom. I have 3 devotional books you can order from Amazon.com. Each has zero calories but offers a sweet look a God’s amazing grace. If you order now you won’ t have to pay a lot of shipping costs. If your order totals $35 shipping is free!

The Books We Never Read is the best bargain—it’s a 3 month devotional. If you think the Old Testament is irrelevant to your life today, read the books we never read and you’ll find the story of God’s grace told and re-told in the lives of people with funny names, who lived in places with strange names, but who share the same struggles you do. You’ll also find the same grace tucked in these ancient stories.

A Clever Disguise if you’ve read my devotional blog, you understand, Ozzy is my handsome gentleman who is wonderful in every way!   Ozzy is my schnoodle—schnauzer-poodle mix. He’s a great dog that teaches me every day about grace, trust, dependence and obedience. If you have a dog lover in your life—this is the devotional book for him or her. It’s priced for gift giving.

Finding the Holy in a mundane world is a good read for the new believer or non-believer. It offers an introduction to God’s character, Jesus’ example of grace, why grace is AMAZING and the call of the Christian life—doing good things not simply following a list of “don’ts”

You can find a link to the blog on Pintrest—Repin it when you see it!

Thanks to those of you who share my blog link, who have signed up to get an email each day when the blog posts, and who click the “like” button on Facebook! Those little things make a big difference!

I’m almost to the nice round number of 70 email subscribers. Help me out, would you? Once I get to 70—the next round number is 80, and so on…

If you doubt God’s ability to use the unqualified, to do more than I could ask or even imagine, scroll down and peek at the world map in the right hand column. Each one of those “*” represents a country where people have seen Finding the Holy in a mundane world. If you have shared this blog with someone, you are part of a worldwide ministry. God truly is amazing! I’m truly amazed! God can use a discombobulated, unsettled goof-ball to spread His word around the world. Thanks for your part in sharing this blog.

Here are the links for last week’s posts! Enjoy and share!

It wasn’t an accident I read these verses this morning.

It shouts His character: New life for old!

“I can conquer the world with my glue gun!”

Apparently, they wanted Jesus to join in the panic.

Fussy babies are my least favorite kind.

See you tomorrow!

 

No Worries

BBY OZZY

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Matthew 6:26 (MSG)

Ozzy is our little schnauzer-poodle mix. He is delightful with a sweet disposition.   His biggest “worries” of the day are: the location of his favorite ball and the location of his bone. His day is uncomplicated. It begins when I get up with morning coffee. It ends when I go to bed. He snuggles up next to me for a few minutes each night as I tell him how lucky he is to be a dog. The time in between those 2 events is spent chasing the ball, chewing the bone, eating his food, occasional trips to police the backyard (making sure the bunny and squirrel know it’s HIS back yard) and napping.

Ozzy has a good life; mostly because he has no worries. Ozzy has no worries because Terry and I love him. Unable to meet any of his needs on his own, Terry and I take care of him.

The passage above is tucked in the middle of The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus uses word pictures that draw a distinction between the life of one who is consumed with this life and one whose life is consumed by living for God.

The Message uses the word fuss where the King James Version uses take no thought for your life and other translations use the word worry. Fuss is a word my grandma used. When I think of fuss it’s usually in reference to an inconsolable baby; a fussy baby.

Fussy babies are my least favorite kind. Fussy babies are, unhappy sitting up, crying lying down, not wanting a bottle, not needing a diaper change, not interested in a favorite toy—just fussy and miserable. Wanting something but unable to find that one thing that soothes the ache, that fulfills the need, they whine and FUSS.

At some point it seems that fussing takes over and the baby gives up. He is content to be discontent, happy with being unhappy; at that point, there nothing that can change the despondent child.

Jesus is trying to tell us there is a better way to live. There is something better than “fussy.” God is a caring Father. He knows what your needs are and has the ability to meet those needs. Jesus directs your attention to nature. The birds and flowers don’t worry. They don’t fuss; a loving Father cares for them. If God cares for those insignificant things, Jesus asks why you are worried. What difference has your fussiness made – did it change anything other than your disposition?

Jesus gives the remedy for your fussiness in verse 33.   Commonly quoted, The King James Version says:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;

and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

 I like how The Message says it:

 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.

Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Instead of fussing, Jesus’ advice is try trusting. Rest in the knowledge that God knows what you need, has the ability to provide it and will take care of you. KNOW that God loves you and you’ll realize no other thing matters because He will take care of what you need.

Father, thank you for your amazing love. Forgive me for being a fussy baby! I will rest in Your love for me today knowing that You have my best interest in mind. Knowing You will care for me.

 

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

Why Can’t You Trust Me?

storm at seaOne day he and his disciples got in a boat. “Let’s cross the lake,” he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.

 Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!” Luke 8:22-25 (MSG)

I don’t know how to swim. That’s fine with me, because I don’t care for the water. Yes, I’m sure those 2 facts are related. Nonetheless, I joke when my friends are splashing around in the pool, “I have lungs, so I need to stay on the land.” Never feeling comfortable in the water, I don’t enjoy swimming. I don’t enjoy small boats that are tippy. The water is a place that leaves me feeling out of control.

DO enjoy watching big thunderstorms. When tall, dark clouds appear on the horizon, with lightning flashes and cracks of thunder, you can usually find me outside until the rain starts. It’s different being under the cloud than watching it from a distance. Under the cloud, the storm touches you, which can be frightening. Big storms remind you how small you are and just how little you truly control.

For me, being in a storm at sea would be more than I could tolerate.   A number of the disciples, however, were fishermen. Certainly, they were at home on a boat, undoubtedly, having weathered many storms. This day Jesus and His disciples are heading off across the lake simply to get some quiet.

Then, out of nowhere—a storm.

Either the disciples were very tired or this storm was extraordinary. Whatever the reason, this storm caused the disciples to think they were going to die. In spite of their best efforts to keep the boat afloat, they were not winning the battle.

What was Jesus doing? He was asleep.

Has a situation ever consumed you with panic? Did you find it helpful when a friend or spouse asked you, “What’s your problem?” Grrrr! For me, that’s when the yelling begins. If the other person were able to grasp the situation fully, he or she would not have to ask such a silly question.

“Jesus, we’re going to die! Wake up!” Notice, the disciples didn’t ask Him to get up and calm the storm. Apparently, they wanted Jesus to join in the panic.

Jesus got up, told the storm to stop and it did, immediately.

There they are—Jesus and the disciples standing in the boat. The waves—gone. The wind—still. The disciples’ chests still heaving and out of breath as they try to take in what just happened. Jesus, maybe yawning and stretching, asks them, Why can’t you trust Me?

It’s a good question. What was it Jesus was trying to get across to them, to us?

Do you find yourself in a breathless panic? Jesus doesn’t. Does your planned-out day, slip from your grasp and spiral out of control? Jesus’ doesn’t. Do you feel like you have a firm handle on your life only to find your “ship” is about to sink during a storm you didn’t anticipate? Jesus never has that feeling.

That control you and I strive to maintain is only an illusion. The calm sea of life, at any moment can rage, leaving you helpless to watch your boat fill with water. In response to the cry of desperation, Jesus speaks a word and the storm stills.

Jesus didn’t ask the disciples why they didn’t work more or try harder to save the boat. He asked them why they didn’t trust Him. There is the profound truth of this story. It’s not our deeds—it’s Jesus.

Trust in Him to calm your storm.

Father, let trust be my first reaction today. Teach me to rest in Your strength and love for me. Loosen my grip on the control I try so desperately, yet inadequately, try to maintain. I’ll let Your power keep me safe.

Image courtesy of bing.com/images

 

Nailed it!

mcgyver

 

God sent a man, John the Baptist,  to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. But    the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

John 6:6-18 (NLT)

 

If you don’t know who MacGyver is, Google the name later. He was a TV character, handsome and resourceful; he solved crimes and got out of sticky situations with common things. “MacGyver” became a verb for my friends and me. As in, “I can MacGyver that.” meaning I can make it work by using things laying around.

“I can ‘fix’ just about anything!” I often proclaim, “I can conquer the world with my glue gun!” I say, “fix” rather than FIX, since I can jury-rig all sorts of things to make the item workable.   Financially broke, with an old car, I rigged a system to get hot air up to the windshield to defrost it when the lever on the dashboard board broke, leaving all the heat directed at the floorboard.   I used the inner tube from a bicycle tire and bread bag ties to get the hot air up to the windshield. It looked goofy, but it worked and cost me a total of $7.59.

Jury-rigging a solution to a problem is never the best fix, but it does get the job done. Inevitably, a genuine fix is necessary.

When sin separated man and God, God initially implemented a MacGyver. Animal sacrifice provided a “fix.” It was an elaborate system requiring perfect animals without illness or blemish. How could a perfect God accept anything less than a perfect sacrifice? Twice daily at the temple lambs were offered.

When John the Baptist proclaimed; Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (NLT) the people who heard it understood exactly what he was saying—the subtly is lost on those if use who have no experience with the sacrificial system of the Jews. Those people had certainly seen the sacrifices taking place at the temple.  No doubt, many had taken sacrificial animals to the temple.

The gruesome spectacle of sacrifice provides an insight into the severity of sin. “I’m sorry.” is not enough. There had to be a sacrifice. There had to be a perfect sacrifice, unblemished and pure. People selected the best animals and grains to offer.   The best mankind could do was only a jury-rigged fix. The blood of animals could not take away sin; it was only a covering, only a “fix” not a FIX.

Jesus appears on the scene as the Perfect Lamb. Jesus is the perfect, sinless, pure sacrifice that can remove the filth of sin and restore the relationship between sinful man and a Holy God. Jesus was not many days away from becoming THE Sacrifice that provides the FIX for the broken relationship between God and humanity. Jesus pays the price, takes the punishment that sin carries and then offers the benefit to you and me—salvation.

Salvation is the churchy word for being free from the debt that sin carries. Jesus paid off the loan. He saved you from the punishment due you since every human shares in the scourge of sin. He took all the bad and offers you the good; abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven.   The beauty is the invaluable sacrifice is a gift, offered to anyone who recognizes that he or she needs a Savior.

Jesus is THE FIX.

Father, thank you for offering the perfect sacrifice to restore me to you. How humbling to know You paid the price for my sin. Thank you!!! I want to live a life worthy of such a sacrifice.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/Images

He Knows

for

 

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)

 

It’s Spring here in Iowa. Saturday was the first day I worked in the yard. It was spent cleaning up after Ozzy and then cleaning out some flowerbeds.

I am always amazed by the change of seasons. Here in Iowa, summers burn hot and humid. During those months my garden is washed in vibrant colors. The long hot days of summer wane into the shorter, cooler days of fall. My beautiful flowers shrink and dry up into seed heads that feed the birds and critters. Then winter arrives. Short, cold days and long colder nights put the yard to sleep. Only the hardiest of birds, the older bunnies and the silliest of squirrels remain.

I don’t like them all equally, but I do like to watch the changes the seasons bring.pussy willow

After the cold, dark winters, spring arrives and almost magically, life begins. From what looked like the death of winter, a tiniest bit of life pokes through. The leafless pussy willow buds its fuzzy tufts. The forsythia screams life in vibrant yellow. Under the dead leaves are the sprouts of new plants from the seeds of last fall.

The old life dies and is raised back again each spring. It was not by accident God first put man in a garden. It shouts His character: New life for old!

The “next topic” for this blog is always on my mind. Easter is still fresh in my memory—with that Jesus’ sacrifice and example. Jeremy Camp wrote a song, He Knows—I’ve fallen in love with this song. The thoughts of writing, Easter and Jesus swirled in my head as I listened to this song on my way home from work last night.

WOW! He knows. Jesus knows—YOU.

Growth is a process. It’s not always painless. It’s not always straightforward. Any gardener will tell you, when the fruit or flowers are on display, the work is worth it!

Ask God to cultivate His fruit in your life this spring!

Father, thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit that makes me alive in You. Thank You, Jesus, for being the example for me. Teach me to be like You.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

 

 

Endurance

endurance

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. Hebrews 12:1b-4 (NLT)

 It’s Monday.

A coworker and I spoke last week about how quickly Saturday and Sunday pass compared to Monday through Friday. I’m mostly better from my five-week bout of bronchitis but I’m not whole yet. Keeping a schedule is tedious because I’d rather lie down for an hour once or twice (or three times) a day.

On top of the daily activities of life and my job, just like you, I have all sorts of other commitments that vie for a slice of my precious time. Those things tug at me in the quiet moments when I long to nap or sit quietly and read. Since March 10th, I’ve struggled with being ill, having no energy, having an ever-growing To-Do list and an ever dwindling supply of energy.

I needed some encouragement. I need some endurance. It wasn’t an accident I read these verses this morning. It’s not an accident you’re reading this now.

What has you weary? Is it your job? Do you have a complicated relationship? Is it school? Are finances a problem? Does a coworker or classmate persecute you? Do you struggle with a bad habit? Do you feel stuck? Are you sick?

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Jesus provided us with an excellent example. The sinless, perfect Son of God suffered humiliation, torture, and death because it was worth it. The writer of Hebrews forces you and me to admit, in our struggle with sin and with this sinful world; we have not struggled to the point of death.

What a wonderful dose of encouragement!! Christ suffered, endured and conquered as an example for each of us. The race may not be easy, but there is a Champion to look up to, Jesus.

The challenge for today, ignore the distraction. Put down the stuff that is unnecessary. Focus on Christ. Keep moving toward the prize.

Father, I will focus my thoughts on Christ today. Let His example compel me to endure this race You’ve called me to run. Father, Empower me with your Spirit today.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/Images

The Hope of Spring

sprout

 

Spring is in full swing here in Iowa. The budding trees and sprouting plants offer a great reminder of renewal. I hope the renewal and joy of Easter is still alive in your heart!

The empty tomb shouts—YOU ARE LOVED! It’s a testament to God’s mercy and grace.

Here’s the usual Sunday Shameless Self-Promotion moment. It’s an easy way to share the love you’ve been given.  Someone who wouldn’t read the Bible might read some stories about the garden, other people just like him or her, or a little dog. These devotional books would make great Welcome to the Neighborhood gifts, or a lovely Thinking of You gift. Here’s a reminder—Mother’s Day is just 1 month away! There’s no special occasion needed—it’s an easy, non-threatening way to spread The Gospel.

I have three devotional books you can order from Amazon.com.

  • Finding the Holy in a mundane world is a good read for the new believer or non-believer. It offers an introduction to God’s character, Jesus’ example of grace, why grace is AMAZING and the call of the Christian life—doing good things not simply following a list of “don’ts”
  • The Books We Never Read is the best bargain—it’s a 3 month devotional. If you think the Old Testament is irrelevant to your life today, read the books we never read and you’ll find the story of God’s grace told and re-told in the lives of people with funny names, who lived in places with strange names, but who share the same struggles you do. You’ll also find the same grace tucked in these ancient stories.
  • A Clever Disguise if you’ve read my devotional blog, you understand, Ozzy is my handsome gentleman who is wonderful in every way!   Ozzy is my schnoodle—schnauzer-poodle mix. He’s a great dog that teaches me every day about grace, trust, dependence and obedience. If you have a dog lover in your life—this is the devotional book for him or her. It’s priced for gift giving.

You can find a link to the blog on Pintrest—Repin it when you see it!

Thanks to those of you who share my blog link, who have signed up to get an email each day when the blog posts, and who click the “like” button on Facebook! Those little things make a big difference!

If you doubt God’s ability to use the unqualified, to do more than I could ask or even imagine, scroll down and peek at the world map in the right hand column. Each one of those “*” represents a country where people have seen Finding the Holy in a mundane world. If you have shared this blog with someone, you are part of a worldwide ministry. God truly is amazing!

Here are the links for the past week.

You and I have the luxury of distance.

The reward for her love and devotion—she saw the Lord!

I can relate to Peter.

The empty nets matched their empty stomachs.

Breakfast With Jesus

fish grillAfter this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”

The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.

Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”

They answered, “No.”

He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.” They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.

Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.

 Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master. Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.   John 21:1-14 (MSG)

 

Empty nets overflow, again

In the light of morning, Peter’s idea to return to fishing, to return to the thing he understood and felt comfortable doing, left Peter and his friends unfulfilled. The empty nets matched their empty stomachs. Some man on the shore shouted the instruction to toss the net on the other side of the boat. The fishermen followed the instruction and collected a huge haul of fish.

That was when John recognized the man on the shore. This happened once before. Jesus was relatively unknown then. The fishermen had struggled all night and had no fish to show for their efforts. Jesus suggested they try throwing the nets on the other side—the fishermen had more fish than their boats could hold.

John recognized Jesus. Peter, once again, jumped into the water to get to shore. Peter found Jesus had breakfast cooking.

There’s no going back

The first time these fishermen used their own strength and wound up fishless, Jesus provided a net-busting catch of fish. Jesus told them they would no longer be fishermen, but fishers of men. That was the introduction. What followed was an exciting and exhilarating time of ministry and miracles. Jesus and His disciples shared some intense, confusing moments as Jesus attempted to prepare the disciples to become ministers of the Gospel. Then Jesus died. Then the tomb was empty. Then Jesus appeared, and disappeared, then appeared and disappeared—now He’s making breakfast.

The insecure disciples didn’t find security in their old fall-back position. They did find breakfast on the shore and a net full of fish when Jesus arrived.

Fishers of men have no success fishing for fish

The disciples weren’t out of school yet. The lesson hadn’t settled in their minds or in their hearts. Have you had this same experience? Have you become uncertain of God’s plan for you? Has the first excitement worn off your relationship with Christ? Have you abandoned waiting for His plan to take shape and gone back to your brand of “fishing”? Does it seem that God’s will for you is elusive? Has fear and doubt driven you to rely on your own efforts?

I imagine the disciples looking at the empty nets and thinking, GREAT! Now we can’t even catch fish!   Have you been there? I have. Waiting on God’s plan for me has caused me to question my interpretation of God’s will and His plan. The unease of waiting for my plan of God’s plan to unfold nudged me back into old, once comfortable behaviors. At least I thought those old patters would be comfortable—they weren’t.

Knowing Jesus changes everything. These men were no longer fishers of fish. If you are a believer, your future is no longer your own. Is that unsettling?   Take note of Jesus’ grace for His unsettled friends.

Jesus’ provision

Peter’s decision to return to what he knew left him empty-handed. His own power wasn’t enough to meet his need. So, Jesus made breakfast. What a comforting gesture. Jesus filled the nets of His insecure friends. Jesus also filled their bellies. Jesus, in grace, reassured His friends that even though, EVERYTHING had changed, He would still provide for them. In the middle of their confusion and failed attempts to regain some security, Jesus appeared with provision.

Jesus provides the same rest for His followers today. When you can’t muster up one more moment of faith, find encouragement in this passage—rest in Jesus’ commands and promises.

Jesus knows what you need.

Jesus has what you need.

Jesus will give you what you need.

Follow Him.

Father thank You for the provision Christ offers. Even in my failed attempts to meet my own needs, You offer grace. Help me find my rest in You. Teach me that all I need, I’ll find in You.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

Gone Fishin’

gone fishin2Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.

This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who He was.  He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then He said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.  This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. John 21:1-14 (NLT)

Long days of waiting

If you read Matthew’s account, Jesus told the disciples to wait on a particular mountain in Galilee. Undoubtedly, those days had to be difficult for the disciples, particularly for Peter. Peter the bold defender of Christ, willing to leap to Jesus’ defense, give the right answers and walk on water; Peter denied Jesus with the same fervor he used to defend his Master. The second to the tomb, but the first to enter, Peter was bewildered.

I can relate to Peter. Brash, emotional and impulsive, Peter’s imagination and his intentions were probably very different from the plan Jesus presented. The guilt of his denial and disappointment in himself, and perhaps Jesus, probably weighed heavy on this bold man’s mind.

What are we waiting for? Why did Jesus tell us to wait here? Where did Jesus go? How long will it be before the Romans or Pharisees come for us? How can Jesus use me, now? I imagine those were the thoughts swirling in Peter’s mind as he waited. I’m sure waiting wasn’t Peter’s strong suit.

What is a fisherman to do?

Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.” It’s a simple statement, dripping with innuendo.

Peter was tired of waiting. He was going back to what made sense to him—fishing. Maybe it was the guilt—maybe he felt his denial of Jesus disqualified him. Fishing was easy. It was straightforward. It was comfortable.

Peter, being a leader, had a following. The rest of the disciples went to the boat with him. They all pushed out from the shore and fished all night. The dawn brought an end to the fishless night and some man on the shore calling out to them. The man pointed out the obvious with the simple question, “Did you catch anything?” The disciples had to admit failure.

The “Fishers of Men,” for a short time anyway, abandoned that call and returned to fishing for fish. The problem was, what used to work, didn’t.

The man on the shore was Jesus. Jesus knew their nets were empty but he needed to make sure they understood their nets were empty. Jesus’ shouts from the shore played up the distance between Him and His friends. The man who spoke tenderly with His friends just days before, now had to shout over a distance.   The disciples floated off to do what seemed logical and doable in their own power. They found themselves with empty nets.

Things are different now

Acting in your own power is the default activity of humanity. Depending on your faith, hours, days, weeks, years erode the stick-to-itiveness it requires to follow Christ. As the promise grows dim or the pain gains intensity, the inclination is to “go fishing.” To abandon your faith and return to the activities that used to meet your needs.

Take a lesson from the disciples. The boat was routine—the slap of the waves against the side of the boat, comforting. The work was hard considering there was no pay-off. The empty net mocked the emptiness of their hearts. The distance between the boat and the stranger on the shore exemplified the distance in their spirit.

Jesus changes things.

Peter decided to act in his own strength. It landed him in the middle of the lake, empty handed.

Wait. Obey. Pray. Keep the promise fresh in your mind—read and reread it especially when the urge to return to your “boat” is strong.

This is not the end of the story. Jesus, in a beautiful act of grace, has breakfast ready for His friends.

Father, teach me the value of waiting. When my faith is stretched, when my patience is thin, help me hold on to Your truth and Your commands. Help me rest in Your promise.

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